Kamei, Hiranuma, Ishihara to launch party in March

Kyodo

Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) leader Shizuka Kamei, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma and Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara have agreed to launch a new political party in March, political sources said Friday.

Confirming the agreement at their meeting Wednesday night, they are working out a platform for the new party and plan to coordinate with other parties on candidates for the next House of Representatives election, the sources said.

Hiranuma hopes 70 to 80 politicians will join the new party, which is expected to start with a smaller number of members, they said.

Kamei is seeking to cooperate with popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura, and urge conservatives in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party, the nation’s largest opposition group, to join the new party, they said.

Kamei, whose current small party is the DPJ’s coalition partner, hopes the new party will grow to become the third-largest force, after the DPJ and the LDP, the sources said.

On a TV program Friday, Kokumin Shinto Secretary General Mikio Shimoji voiced hope of joining the new party. “We would like to see Mr. Ishihara become prime minister,” he said.

He also said no single political party may win a majority in the next Lower House election, resulting in another coalition government.

Hashimoto declined the same day to comment on how he will respond to a possible request to cooperate with the new party.

He told reporters at Osaka City Hall that he did not discuss plans about the new party or the next Lower House election when he spoke by telephone with Ishihara on Tuesday during a visit to Tokyo.